Editor's Note: A pharmacist's experience highlights patients' newfound investment in health
I took a pharmacist out to lunch last month.
Well, kind of. Actually, I was waiting for a prescription at my local pharmacy and decided to grab a couple of slices of pizza at a nearby pizza joint. As I waited for my order, one of the pharmacists walked in for lunch.
We almost shared a table — socially distancing, of course, which means she sat at one table outside and I sat at the other table, probably 8 feet away from each other. We did talk, though.
My only question to her was how are things different today than before COVID-19. Twenty minutes later, I had a much better understanding of what pharmacists — and probably all healthcare workers — are going through during these extremely difficult times.
The pandemic, she said, has changed just about everything, from what she wears to work, how she interacts with her colleagues and customers, to how she de-stresses when her shift is over. Frankly, she said, wearing a mask all day, sometimes for up to 10 straight hours (with a break for the aforementioned lunch only), can be a bit much.
Interestingly, she said she disinfects in the car before entering her home. That routine means using antibacterial hand sanitizer in the car as she pulls up to her home, and taking off the outer layer of her clothing and leaving it in the car. (She also said that she goes to the dry cleaner more often to ensure that her clothes at work are also clean.) She showers as soon as she gets home, before interacting with her family.
The real difference, she said, was her interaction with customers. Most have been great, she said, following all the rules on social distancing. A couple of times, people did not follow the rules, but they seemed more ignorant of what to do than not doing them on purpose. Most importantly, she has noticed that customers are much more concerned about their health and are asking many more questions, even on things that have nothing to do with COVID-19.
Sometimes she has the answers. Most times, she said, she is not certain, but always takes the safest possible route for her customers. If something appears serious, her canned response is always to tell customers to contact their doctor immediately. “I just want to go back to normal,” she said at the end of our lunch. “I miss the good old days.”